Tuesday, September 2, 2008

3D Movies

You would think 3D technology would be a dead one considering how long it's been around - apparently the earliest confirmed 3D showing to a paying audience was in 1922. But how much of it have you seen? Why hasn't it been utilized more?

3D films saw a short boom (more like a light tap) in the 50's. The decline was understandably due to the labor-intensive maintenance - back then, two projections had to be reeled at the same exact time, often requiring two projectionists, who usually didn't take their jobs too seriously. If they were not synced properly, it would become hard to watch, causing headaches. There were subtle revivals in the 60's and 70's, but a larger revival came in the 80's when IMAX was introduced. However, there have not been as many 3D productions as you would expect since then, mostly because IMAX theaters are understandably sparse.

The most recent development in 3D technology is called REAL D, most of which has been utilized by Disney productions - and it's a lot better than it was. You may have noticed a few recent releases such as Beowulf and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Still, though, this technology has mostly been used toward animated or children's films (or nature features). Of course, it can't really appropriately be applied toward certain genres. Noone really needs to see The Godfather in 3D. But in its previous successes, 3D was used for more than children's films. It was used mostly for horror, suspense and sci-fi features for obvious reasons - 3D can enhance shocking moments.

3D won't take over the normal film experience. There are only so many theaters nationwide that are or will be equipped for showing 3D productions (note: The Cinema Buying Group just made a deal to bring 3D to about 1,000 small-theater screens). And selling 3D beyond the theater to a fraction of the success of DVD's is a long way off if at all - the 3D experience is intended for large theaters. Not to say it's not developing for home viewing - it is.

The advantage of many 3D features is that they can be re-released if they are seasonal (take The Polar Express for example...it was released in 3D in 2004 but is still shown at most theaters around the holidays). Also, many big releases are being released in both regular format and 3D. Expect to see more 3D in the coming years - studios are talking more about the developed technology. Apparently atleast a dozen productions are expected in 2009.


Mike said...

Thanks for more info. I was wondering what was up when I saw a stack of Molly Ray Cyrus Disney DVDs in 3D.

David Oblas said...

we just need to be worried when they decide to bring 3D filming to the adult genre... hahahahaha